I warned you that last week’s Cemetery Cicada Celebration would be revised. And so it was. Over and over again as is my custom.
But the thing is that last week I took part in a poetry workshop offered through Greater Lovell Land Trust by Poet Judith Steinbergh. The title of the workshop was “Caring for Our Earth and Waters.” Judy shared various poems with us through a remote gathering and asked us to read them aloud while thinking “about what we might visualize from the images, and how the sounds and form blend together with the image and feeling.”
She encouraged us to make notes and suggested some different approaches: speak to the subject; become the subject; instruct the reader; show feelings toward the subject. She even gave us some beginnings and endings that might inspire us to begin.
And then she concluded with “Poetry Revision Guidelines,” which included such practices as reading the poem aloud several times, questioning whether or not the opening was strong enough, maintaining focus, creating images the reader could visualize, using tight language, finding a rhythm, helping the reader gain insight, and providing appropriate breaks.
We had one week to write a poem, submit it to Judy for comments, and then the big night would come: The Reading.
Just as it’s scary to publish in this blog manner or via Lake Living magazine and other avenues I’ve used over the years, it’s equally terrifying to read aloud–especially when you can see yourself on the computer screen.
But that’s what some of us did the other night for the remote Poetry Reading and you can watch and listen in: GLLT Poetry Reading 2020
My original subject was a pine tree, but after watching the magical emergence of cicadas last week, I knew I had to write about that experience. Figuring out the angle was much more difficult and I tried a variety of avenues. In the end, I chose a style that works best for me, teaching through imagery.
It’s not a done deal, mind you, for it is my belief that there is no such thing as a final draft. OK, so that’s my default in case you don’t think this works or have suggestions to improve my attempt. All comments are welcome. It’s only a draft and I haven’t written 18 drafts yet as I often do with an article. I’m at 7 or 8.
Resurrection By Leigh Macmillen Hayes, 7/19/2020 To walk into a cemetery on a summer day And find an insect metamorphosing upon a stone I begin to understand the process of resurrection. A life well spent questing sap for sustenance Prepares to crawl free of its past And reach for heavenly aspirations. Through a tiny slit, a spirit no longer contained Emerges head first as a teneral shape develops with bulging eyes to view a new world. Gradually, a pale tourmaline-colored body extends outward With stained-glass wings unfurling That provide baby steps toward freedom beyond. I mourn the loss of your former soul But give thanks for a peek at your upcoming ascension From this place to the next. It is not for me to know when you will first use the gift of flight As I didn’t know when you would shed your old skin, And I quickly offer a final goodbye when I see your wings spread. I rejoice that I’ll spend the rest of the summer Listening to your raspy love songs Playing nature’s lullabies upon violin strings from above. On this day, I celebrate the secrets of a cicada’s life, Dying to the old ways and rising to new, While I wander among the graves of others who have done the same.
To all who joined the Poetry Workshop or the Poetry Reading or wished they could, and especially to Judy Steinbergh, I dedicate this post. Thank you for sharing.